Finance officers help to manage the finances of an organisation. You would do this by keeping track of its income and controlling its spending.
The role of finance officers is absolutely critical to any organisation dealing with a significant amount of financial transactions. The work can often be repetitive but care and focus are needed to ensure the finances of an organisation are managed appropriately.
What Does a Finance Officer Do
The work of a finance officer is to help to manage the finances of an organisation. You do this by keeping track of its income and controlling its spending. The key functions of a finance officer are to:
- Reconcile financial issues. This means you will need to identify problems and overspends.
- Record financial transactions on computer systems.
- Pay and record invoices and expenses in the system.
- Resolve payment questions for external contractors.
- Produce financial forecasts and budget reports.
- Deal with payroll, on a monthly or weekly basis.
- Assist accountants in preparing accounts.
- Carry out targeted financial audits.
- Present reports to managers, often with a senior finance officer or finance director.
Who Employs Finance Officers
Finance officers generally work in two types of ways. Most are employed by businesses or public bodies to assist with finances. Those employed by businesses are private sector employees, while those in public bodies are public sector employees.
A smaller number of finance officers work freelance and offer their services to a range of clients who might only need a few days of finance support every month.
Job Salary for a Finance Officer
The official UK Government statistics on the job salary for a finance officer places the starting wage at £19,500. This can rise to £ 34,000 if you’re an experienced employee.
Another source estimates the average finance officer’s salary in the UK to be £36,280. This is based on a recorded minimum of £21,000 and a maximum salary of £77,956.
Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year.
As with other jobs, there are significant regional differences in the salary of a finance officer in different parts of the UK. Finance officers in London and the South East of England are, like other professions, paid more than in other parts of the UK.
There will also be large differences in salary for finance officers depending on the type of institutions where you are located. Large firms will generally pay more than small ones.
How Often is a Finance Officer Normally Paid
Finance officers can normally expect to be paid a salary every month if you are working for someone else. You will tend to manage the payroll yourself. Self-employed finance officers working for multiple clients can pay themselves more irregularly.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Finance Officer
Finance officers working for someone else will be hired at a set salary. Self-employed finance officers working for multiple clients will set their own fee levels.
What Sort of Contracts Do Finance Officers Have
Finance officers working for someone else will have a fixed contract with clear rates of pay, working hours and job description. Self-employed finance officers working for multiple clients will work based on agreed timescales and fee levels.
Earning Potential of a Finance Officer
Many finance officers are either self-employed. You usually will have two or more part-time jobs aligned with their professional skills. It is common for these finance officers to be working for several different types of employers at the same time. In this scenario, your earning potential is usually strongly linked to your experience level. It will also depend on the number of clients you have.
Finance officers working for a single company will have increased earning potential linked to either promotion or greater turnover for the company or both.
How to Become a Finance Officer
There are four main routes to becoming a Finance Officer:
- Working towards this role within a firm is possible. To do this you could start as a finance assistant or accounts assistant. Both of these roles tend to work for finance officers. You would then work your way into this role after getting experience.
- Applying directly to a company. If you want to apply directly for jobs you’ll usually need some qualifications that demonstrate your skills and aptitude for this type of work. A-levels in maths, business studies or economics may be useful, and GCSEs such as maths and English will also be needed.
- Undertaking a university or college course.
- Taking an assistant accountant advanced apprenticeship.
Qualifications/Courses – Finance Officer
Larger employers may ask for a relevant university degree in a subject like finance, accounting or business studies. To get into university to study these sorts of subjects you will normally need 2 or 3 A-Levels. A degree like this normally takes three years to complete.
Doing a Further Education course is another option for becoming a finance officer. Following this route could help you build up your skills in finance and accounting. The main qualifications you could do would include:
- Undertaking a Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping (which usually needs 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3).
- Doing a Level 2 Certificate in Accounting (which also usually needs 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3).
- Completing a Level 3 Certificate in Financial Studies. The entry requirements for this course are often 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent.
- T Level in Accounting. This would need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths to undertake the course.
You can also become a finance assistant by becoming an assistant accountant advanced apprenticeship. To begin an advanced apprenticeship the usual entry requirements are 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent. These qualifications will usually include English and maths. If you take this route, you may have to pay for it yourself. However, some employers do fund further education courses or apprenticeships for employees wishing to attain financial qualifications.
General Skills Required
- Superb mathematical skills are particularly helpful in a finance officer.
- A good finance officer has strong knowledge of economics and accounting.
- You will need business management skills.
- The ability to conduct audits, produce forecasts, create reports and produce budget reports is essential.
- A successful finance officer will need a positive attitude to problem-solving.
- Some finance officers work alone rather than as part of a team. In those cases, the ability to work alone, using your initiative, is very important. Furthermore, you need to have a proactive mindset.
- A good memory is helpful since the work can often be repetitive and it is important not to lose track.
- Intention to be a good team player with a wider team (if one exists) and the ability to work constructively with others carrying out aligned tasks in finance.
- You will need good computing skills to record information relating to finances.
- Trustworthiness is absolutely essential.
- Confidentiality relating to financial records.
- If you’re working freelance, you’ll also need skills in business administration, promotion, marketing and networking to assist you in running your business.
- Organisation and time management skills are always needed to match your workload and multiple commissions or multiple streams of work.
Challenges of Being a Finance Officer
- Being a finance officer is complicated work. Knowing the scope of your abilities is important. If financial issues go beyond your scope of abilities, you need to act appropriately. In these circumstances, the correct action is to refer the issue to a more senior finance officer or accountant.
- Appropriate judgement is essential to identify problems, trends and also profit areas.
- You will also need to exercise skill in every aspect of your work. Remember that small mistakes can sometimes grow into big problems.
- Few freelance finance officers draw their income from just one source. You may have to develop a portfolio career, involving part-time work with several clients.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- You should be a methodical person with a patient outlook to have a successful career. Furthermore, you need the ability to deal with stress.
- To be a successful finance officer, you need a positive attitude to problem-solving. This mean you need to be someone who can deal with detail and spot problems.
- The ability to work alone, using your initiative, is very important because as a finance officer you need to have a proactive mindset.
- Communication skills are important. This is because you need to be able to communicate complicated financial arrangements in a way that others can easily understand.
General Expected Working Hours
If you are a finance officer within a company, you will usually work around 37 to 39 hours a week. Further, you can expect to work around 8 hours a day Monday to Friday between 8 am and 6 pm.
If you are a self-employed finance officer, you will tend to work longer and more irregular hours.
Location of Work
Finance officers employed by companies will mean you will work in an office. Freelance finance officers will work in different locations and sometimes from home.
Finance officers have a wide range of career prospects. If you are working freelance you can build your business and maybe hire others. If you are working for a company then, with experience, you could be promoted. This could make you a senior finance officer or finance manager.
Both types of finance officers can also progress their careers by training to be an accountant.
If you are ambitious, becoming a member of The London Institute of Banking and Finance can also help you build a career. Joining this organisation would allow you to make contacts and access professional development training.